Test drive: The 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid is a cheap little truck … in a good way

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The Ford Maverick Hybrid pickup may be the most appropriate vehicle you’ll find in any automaker’s lineup today.

The 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid is Ford's lowest-priced vehicle.

The 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid is Ford’s lowest-priced vehicle.
(Ford)

The brand is all-in on trucks and SUVs and going big on electrification, so it makes perfect sense that its new entry-level model would combine those things.

At a starting price of $21,490, the Mexican-made Maverick isn’t just the lowest-priced Ford, but also the lowest-priced pickup and lowest-priced hybrid currently on sale. So think of it as a three-for-one deal.

The Maverick Hybrid is rated at 37 mpg combined.

The Maverick Hybrid is rated at 37 mpg combined.
(Ford)

Unlike the body-on-frame Ranger and F-150, it’s built on a version of the same unibody platform as Ford’s Bronco Sport and Escape compact SUVs and has a front-wheel-drive, 191 hp four-cylinder hybrid powertrain that’s good for 37 miles per gallon of combined city and highway driving. That’s by far the best of any vehicle equipped with a bed.

The Maverick's bed is wide enough to fit 4x8 sheets of plywood.

The Maverick’s bed is wide enough to fit 4×8 sheets of plywood.
(Ford)

The bed is only 4.5-feet long, but its wide enough to fit a standard-size pallet between the wheel wells and a 4-foot-wide sheet of plywood on top of them with the tailgate down. The payload capacity for the vehicle is 1,500 pounds, but that should cover a lot of mulch, even if you bring a couple of friends with you to the garden store.

The bed can be equipped with a 110v oulet.

The bed can be equipped with a 110v oulet.
(Ford)

They shouldn’t mind the trip. The cabin is easy to step into thanks to a ride height more like a crossover’s than a truck’s and is at least as roomy and accommodating as midsize Ranger’s.

Reflecting the bargain-basement price point, the interior is almost entirely trimmed in hard plastics, but with a design and detailing that makes it look functional and fun. There are floating door handles with exposed screws, tall bottle holders in the door pockets, odds and ends bins in the center console and a storage compartment under the flip-up rear seat that’s deep enough for a basketball.

The dashboard has plenty of work or ski glove-friendly knobs for primary functions and there’s an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Maverick XL and XLT trims have a 4.2-inch digital display in the instrument cluster, while the top of the line Lariat gets a 6.2-inch version between analog gauges.

Automatic emergency braking is standard and a $540 CoPilot 360 package adds blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist systems, while a loaded Lariat with the optional luxury package enhances it with adaptive cruise control and an evasive steering assist along with a host of creature comforts and gadgets for $30,865.

Among them are a heated steering wheel and front seats plus a 110v outlet in the bed and two 12v connectors to use with small tools, lighting and other accessories pre-wired into the bed walls.

Combined with the boxy styling, which offers a stark contrast to the sleek, edgy, more carlike look of the similar Hyundai Santa Cruz compact pickup, the Maverick’s overall vibe is very much in the Keep on Truckin’ vein.

It does drive more like a front-wheel-drive car with a lot of power steering assist dialed in and experienced pickup owners will need a few miles to acclimate, but anyone switching from a crossover won’t notice the difference.

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The ride quality and overall refinement is nearly as good as the latter’s, and it is surprisingly quiet inside, highlighting the excellent six-speaker B&O audio system that comes with the luxury package. It’s definitely a street machine, but if you’re interested in a compact truck that can go a bit off the beaten path, the Maverick is available with a non-hybrid 250 hp turbocharged four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive and an FX4 off-road package.

On pavement, the hybrid may be more fuel efficient that the official figures suggest. I averaged over 37 mpg with my time with and saw 40 mpg on the highway, even though it’s only supposed to deliver 33 mpg there.

The Maverick Hybrid's tow rating is 2,000 pounds.

The Maverick Hybrid’s tow rating is 2,000 pounds.
(Ford)

Where it comes up short is in the towing department. It’s rated at just 2,000 pounds, which is the least of any pickup, including the front-wheel-drive version of the Santa Cruz that can pull 3,500 pounds.

That one-ton towing is about the same as the Bronco Sport’s and many other small SUVs, however, and the turbo model can be configured to handle up to 4,000 pounds if you don’t want to step all the way up to a midsize truck.

Considering a Ford Escape Hybrid with a less-potent edition of the Maverick’s powertrain and a similar interior size starts at $29,275, this small pickup seems like an astonishing deal. The only thing about it is, the Maverick isn’t all that small.

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It’s about the same length as a three-row Ford Explorer, which means city folks may have trouble finding a place to park it. Being one of them, I’m certain that they will.

What I’m not sure about is how many economy car shoppers will want a pickup instead of a car or SUV just because it’s cheap and frugal, but Ford said it islready sold out of Maverick Hybrids for the 2022 model year, although it hasn’t said exactly how many it’s going to make.

Nevertheless, like the oversized products from warehouse stores that will likely be filling their beds, Maverick Hybrids offer a lot of value for the money.

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2022 Ford Maverick hybrid

Base price: $21,490

Type: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-wheel-drive pickup

Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with electric assist

Power: 191 hp, 155 lb-ft torque

Transmission: CVT automatic

MPG: 42 city/33 hwy

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